Evening has arrived, draping its dark veil over the face of the world. Your neighbors’ lights have begun winking out.
Your favorite TV drama or late-night comedian or sports team has wrapped up, and your bed beckons. But you know you can’t go to sleep yet.
Why? Because you’ve suddenly found yourself seized by a fierce case of the munchies. It’s an all-too-real struggle, one that we shouldn’t ever indulge — right?
Sure, common wisdom may say that we shouldn’t snack right before going to sleep, but that advice is only half right. A late-night snack really can help you sleep and not swell your waistline, at least if you choose wisely.
BuzzFeed consulted with registered dieticians Abby Langer and Despina Hyde to see if they had any counsel about late-night snacking, and what they said might surprise you. For one thing, your body actually does continue to burn calories while you sleep, albeit at a decreased rate.
Also, regularly going to bed hungry means that you aren’t getting the requisite calories your body needs and opens you up to binge eating. So by all means, eat up if your stomach starts to grumble in the wee hours.
However, don’t tuck into just anything. Put down the Sriracha and Tabasco, because spicy foods can lead to indigestion, a sure sleep destroyer.
Similarly, deep-fried foods can also hurt your stomach because oil tends to take longer to digest, leading to more burbling acids in your stomach. So what should you munch on?
According to Good News Network, a team of Japanese scientists discovered that eating tryptophan-rich foods (and getting a little time in the sun) tended to increase the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps with sleep. Some foods full of tryptophan include eggs, poultry, red meat and fish.
Of course, not everyone wants to crack open a tin of sardines or sample a little beef tartare after the late-night guy signs off. Fortunately, more snack-worthy options such as pistachios, pumpkin seeds, almonds and hazelnuts contain tryptophan.
You know what else scientists suspect may be a good source of tryptophan? Warm milk. Maybe that old wives’ tale had something to it!
Complex carbohydrates also provide a good source of serotonin, a brain chemical. If you don’t have enough of it in your system, expect to start waking up in the middle of the night.
Protein, too, can help you avoid hunger in the wee hours. So prior to bedtime, think about enjoying a bowl of high-fiber cereal, whole-grain crackers with cheese, or toast topped with a dollop of peanut butter.
The National Sleep Foundation has pointed out that certain fruits such as kiwis, tart cherries, pineapple and bananas help as well. Peppermint, chamomile and ginger tea are other good options.
The fact of the matter is that you should snag a snack if you’re starving, no matter the time of day. Simply make a smart selection first. Bon appetit!
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